A Dish Best Served Cold

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A Dish Best Served Cold

the Akō Incident and the Forty-seven Rōnin

Utagawa Hiroshige, Act 9 (kyÅ«danme) from the series “The storehouse of loyal retainers (ChÅ«shingura)” 1834-39, colour woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper, Art Gallery of South Australia (Image cropped)Of all the spectacular tales of loyalty, revenge and death none resonates more profoundly in Japan and around the world than the Akō incident (Akō Rōshi) (1701–03), more commonly known as the revenge of the forty-seven rōnin. The Akō incident took place during the ‘golden age’ of the Edo period, known as the Genroku era (1688–1704), when a century of peace fostered a blossoming of art and culture. It also marked the transition of the samurai from their primary function as warriors to bureaucrats and administrators of regional domains. Tantalising aspects of the incident immediately inspired fictionalised accounts on the puppet (bunraku, jōruri) and kabuki stages in Edo, Kyoto and Osaka, the most famous of which, Treasury of Loyal Retainers(Kanadenhon ChÅ«shingura) is one of the most popular plays of all times. Throughout the Edo period (1625-1868) the Akō incident continued to spark controversy and debate and inspired artists in every media, particularly print, to endlessly represent the characters and places central to the incident. For over 300 years the story of the forty-seven rōnin has been retold endlessly on the stage, in print and on the large and small screens, transforming it from a national legend of Japan to an international phenomenon.

Russell Kelty, Associate Curator, Asian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, is preparing the display Samurai from mid-2020 to 28 March 2021. Kelty received a BA in Art History from Colorado State University, then spent three years living and working in Japan. He completed an MA in Art History at the University of Adelaide and is currently a PhD candidate at Sydney University.


How to Book: Booking confirmation and payment in advance are essential. No refunds. Book via email to Chris Manning (bookings@taasa.org.au) or call Chris on 0412 686 025.

How to Pay
1. By Direct Debit (“your name, KELTY” as reference)
BSB: 012 003 Account Number: 2185 28414
Account Name: The Asian Arts Society of Australia

2. By credit card on this website – see booking button on top right of this page


5 April, 2021
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm AEST
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